The state Supreme Court handed down a decision Thursday that legal experts say closes the door on Virginia homeowners’ attempts to obtain payments from their insurance companies for damages caused by defective Chinese drywall.
The court agreed with an earlier ruling that damage caused by drywall in Larry Ward’s Virginia Beach home was not covered because of several exclusions in Ward’s policy with TravCo Insurance Co.
Legal experts said the decision in TravCo v. Ward probably will prevent hundreds of homeowners from receiving payments from their insurance companies.
"To me, what these kind of cases illustrate is the Swiss cheese nature of homeowners’ insurance policies," said Tom Baker, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "There are all these different exclusions that exclude things that people really need insurance for."
Ward bought a new home in Virginia Beach in 2007 built with defective Chinese drywall, which emits noxious odors and corrodes household appliances and equipment. He filed a claim with TravCo in 2009, but the company denied it and then sought a judgment from courts.
A lower court ruled in TravCo’s favor in 2010, and Ward appealed.
The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that the drywall was not covered because Ward’s policy contained four exclusions: latent defects; faulty, inadequate or defective materials; rust or corrosion; and pollutants, which include gaseous irritants or contaminants.
Read more about Chinese Drywall issues in Hampton Roads and Williamsburg here